Between the streets and the gallery, art and life, darkness and light, Cyrcle seeks balance between opposites. But before hitting some sweet middle, they know you’ve got to go jump off a cliff. A two-person arts collective based in Hollywood, Cyrcle integrates painting and design through multiple media—big outdoor murals, sculpture, photography, and video, to name a few. The group has new expansion plans, but keeping the risk-taking edge they started with is key.
Davey Detail and Rabī formed Cyrcle after meeting at a rooftop party in Echo Park. Both originally painters, they came out of graffiti and skate culture, a still-visible influence in their current work. While each has developed new skills—Davey gravitated toward design, Rabī learned photography—their work always expresses similar ideas about duality, collectivity, and, well, circularity.
Pointing to our “fluid, ever-circulating existence,” Rabī says their name uses “the ambiguous ‘y’ instead of an ‘i’ because it’s about you. There are many of us. It’s not an ‘I’ thing.”
Similarly in their work, Rabī says, “The concept drives the aesthetic,” meaning they land on the form of a piece after drilling down to one core idea. Notes cover various surfaces in their studio (where they also live), providing evidence of a brainstorming process that continues until “a word sticks, and that word is so powerful it dictates an entire concept,” Davey says. Nothing Exists! is the show Cyrcle opened in Montreal in June. The idea came out of an article Davey had read about how a big black hole grows heavier with everything it consumes until the impenetrable center gives birth to a new universe. “That helped me come to this revelation that everything is breathing,” Davey says. Even on a galactic level, “It’s just a breath in, inhale an entire solar system, exhale.” The show featured paintings composed of text, surreal historical figures, otherworldly landscapes, and sculpture with glow-in-the-dark elements.
Having traveled all over in recent years, Cyrcle has forged links with artists around the globe, from LA to Miami to Hong Kong. Bonding over shared interests and attitudes, a culture has grown among the people they know—summed up by their hashtag #DougLyfe. “‘Doug’ is a term of endearment for someone who’s trying to make it in life,” Rabī says. They began calling each other Doug, then calling others Doug. “People picked it up. It became this fun personal thing for the people who knew us, something stupid within our crew,” Rabī says. “It’s become our culture.”
Cyrcle plans to expand this culture to a website with original content, zines, and even toys based on tattoo art. This is one of two projects conceived around the duo’s individual interests. In September, the guys are heading to Aalborg, Denmark for an installation for WE AArt. After that, they’ll make their way to NYC for a collaboration with the non-profit Journalism is not a Crime. Though the present is busy and bright, Cyrcle is “nowhere near where we want to be,” Rabī says.
While Rabī leads on Doug Lyfe, Davey, a former clothing designer, spearheads Black Cyrcle, a product division offering limited-edition fashion, furniture, and decor, set to launch in September. He imagines pop-up shops and collaborations with, for example, a 350-year-old porcelain company in Japan. “We’re going to continue to work hard to make just fucking epic shit,” Rabī says, “just to satisfy that weird longing craving empty weirdness that is not making something. The more we change, the more we grow. It’s just remembering the risks we took to get here and not being afraid to keep taking them.”
These risks are in service of a desire to inspire. For a reminder about how to jump off a cliff, Cyrcle’s manifesto reads: “We left our families. We abandoned our homes. We worked for nothing. We slept on floors. We partied hard. We lost our minds. We danced with the devil. We faced our fears. We swallowed our pride. We gave our hearts. We tried and failed. We followed our dreams. We are Cyrcle. We never die!”
This text hangs in their studio window on Hollywood, where it serves as a reminder to the rest of us, too.
words Chris Pedler
photography Tyler Allen